When it comes down to it, for an organization to achieve successful business transformation, quality and IT executives must review and make critical decisions on three core key elements.
A company’s organizational readiness starts and ends with a top down approach that continually reviews, evaluates and modifies these three elements and requires support from everyone in the organization.
I sell technology for a living and interact with people from all levels in organizations of all sizes. What I have learned over the years – and I’m going to make this statement very clear - the most successful organizations look at the people involved in the project as the most critical of the three elements to achieve successful business transformation.
People are the most important corporate element, and make up the largest capital investment of an organization. Breaking down silos and creating teams of people that demonstrate cross department collaboration is critical to success. Regardless of company size or revenue, creating a collaborative team that is aligned with the overall company goals and objectives is necessary first and foremost. One constructive and often fun way of building this type of culture is by making requirements like removing the words “They, Them, You, and I” from business needs discussions. This exercise is not only helpful, but at first can be quite comical. People will learn very quickly where their mind is set. “The way they do it is not the way we do it” is not only a sentence with a lot of pronouns, but it places ownership on processes or decisions that may or may not be owned by anyone in particular and in the end can lead to more questions and doubts as a project evolves. Those people that are unable to align to the company’s overall corporate strategies either must be addressed or realigned before starting any transformation project.
Things to do to ensure success on the people side of a project:
- Ensure the project has full management buy-in and a designated, senior project sponsor. The project sponsor should be managing staff representation and involvement
- Conduct an assessment of project plans from an HR perspective to understand what working conditions of employment are being affected and if the right skills profile is available to operate the system
- Develop an organizational change management (OCM) plan that encompasses both how the actual system operates and any procedural or cultural changes that may have taken place
- Assign a core team that has a vested interest in the success of the project
- Decide on a governance approach to ensure decisions are made with the best interests of the organization at the core
- Create a communications plan that understands what staff, suppliers, investors and end-users need to know, when they need to know it, and how they need to be told
Do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is wishful thinking at best. However, starting from scratch to define process improvements is not the most efficient way to get better and faster either. Typically, companies are at their current state based on good input from their stakeholders over the years. Some modifications may have been made at a time where the company was focused on certain initiatives or products and those initiatives and/or products may have changed. In addition, the resources for those processes may have also changed or realigned as well.
Enabling process improvement with industry best practices not only ensures a good starting point, but the company can have assurances that they are not going off into no man’s/woman’s land and getting into issues with over complicated or redundant steps.
A few best practices to ensure process improvements are listed below:
- Map out the current state of the process and identify areas of risk, costs, bottlenecks, headaches, etc.
- Map out the benefits of fixing those challenges and how they align to the main initiatives of the project
- Get agreement on the priority of the current state challenges
Last but not least is the technology element. I am going to let you in on a little secret here – it’s vital that the technology providers have their own PPT elements in order to be good project stewards that provide successful solutions for their clients. Yes, the flexibility of a quality system; the ability to scale throughout the enterprise; integration abilities for multiple pillars systems; mobile access for users on the move; operational analytics reporting; the ability to communicate and collect information from suppliers/co-manufacturers/distributors; offline working capabilities; a stable software platform, are all very important. But what’s equally important is that the providers of that technology have the right People and Processes in place to work well with your core team(s) while fulfilling the company’s overall Quality and IT strategies.
To successfully execute technology solutions utilizing best practices proven for any given industry, here are some things to consider to ensure success:
- Identify true functional requirements based on the needs identified in the process assessment
- Learn more about the technology providers by requesting headquarter visits to meet the people behind the sales team
- Learn about their current client portfolio and determine if their client base is similar in size and complexity to your organization
For companies thinking about making investments in technology to improve business processes, the people, process, technology approach is necessary to ensure successful implementations that will achieve both expected and unexpected business benefits.
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